News & Insights

English Language Tests for the Skilled Worker visa

Head of Immigration Imelda Reddington considers the English language requirements of the Skilled Worker visa and provides some much-needed clarity as to the specific tests that a migrant needs to pass.

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, an applicant must evidence their understanding of the English language by passing an approved International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.

This requirement only applies to applicants from non-English speaking countries who are aged over 18 and under 65. If the applicant has a degree, masters or PhD taught or researched in English then this will usually suffice in place of the test, together with and approved certificate from ECCTIS (if the qualification is obtained overseas).

Testing What?

Applicants under the Skilled Worker visa route must pass a comprehensive IELTS test specifically for UKVI covering speaking, listening, reading and writing, passing each facet at the required level. This should be distinguished from those tests which cover speaking and listening only – passing a speaking and listening test will not be sufficient for the English language requirements of the Skilled Worker visa!

The new Global Business Mobility routes do not have any English language requirement, which makes them particularly attractive for UK sponsors looking to bring in overseas workers on a medium-term basis. You can read more about these routes here.

What Level of Test?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level of test that an applicant will need to pass will also depend on the visa route they are applying for. These CEFR levels range from A1 (“Breakthrough”) all the way up to C2 (“Mastery”) – although none of the UK visa routes require a C2 level. The Skilled Worker visa requires the applicant to pass a test at CEFR level B1.

Approved Tests

Applicants must take the approved English language test relevant to their visa route at an approved test location, within two years before the date of their application.

For Skilled Worker applications the approved tests include:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium
    • IELTS for UKVI
  • LanguageCert
    • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT
  • Pearson
    • PTE Academic UKVI
  • PSI Service (UK) Ltd (outside UK only)
    • Skills for English UKVI (4 component)
  • Trinity College London (in UK only)
    • Integrated Skills in English

You can find lists of the approved tests and approved test centres here. The list of approved tests also shows the minimum scores required for passing a CEFR level B1 test.

If you have any questions about the English language requirements or tests, or if you have any queries about the Skilled Worker visa or UK visa routes more generally, please get in contact with our immigration team at [email protected]